Steven Wagschal

Steven Wagschal

Professor, Spanish and Portuguese


  • Ph.D., Columbia University, 1999
  • M.A., Columbia University, 1992
  • B.A., Concordia University, 1991


  • Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
  • Cognitive Science
  • Renaissance Studies Program

About Steven Wagschal

My main area of research is early modern Spanish literature and culture, and specifically, the analysis of textual expressions of mental phenomena, including emotional experience (disgust and jealousy), sensory perception (sight, taste and smell), and non-human animal cognition (emotions, sensations, theory of mind, phenomenal consciousness, etc.). As a humanities scholar, I examine specific cultural products created by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literary authors including Cervantes, Calderón, De Zayas, and Garcilaso; non-fiction writers such as Martínez Espinar and Fernández de Oviedo; and visual artists such as Velázquez and De Gheyn. My most recent monograph, Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018) pushes at the intersections of literary-cultural studies, cognitive science and animal studies, exploring the understanding of non-human animals in the Iberian world, from the Middle Ages through the Early Modern period in different contexts and through various modes of discursive writing.

I am interested in the beliefs that people have held about the cognitive faculties of non-human animals and I evaluate to what extent these beliefs fall in line with current scientific understanding of these faculties in animals. Since ideas about suffering are inextricably tied up with human morality, a lack of appreciation for animal suffering tends to lessen the sense of moral responsibility humans have towards specific individuals or groups of animals. In other recent research, I explore the cognition of human literary characters.


  • Early Modern/Golden Age prose, poetry and theater
  • Cognitive and Philosophical Approaches to Literature
  • Animal Studies
  • Literature, the Emotions and the Senses
  • Art and Literature
  • Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.
  • Beyond Sight: Smell, Taste, Touch and Hearing in Iberian Literatures and Cultures, 1200-1750. Co-edited with Ryan Giles. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.
  • The Literature of Jealousy in the Age of Cervantes. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006.
  • Peribáñez y el Comendador de Ocaña. By Lope de Vega.  Editor, with Introduction and Notes. Cervantes & Company No. 14. Newark (DE): Cuesta European Masterpieces, 2004.
  • “Human Thinking about Thinking Animals in the Early Modern Spanish and Spanish American World.” In Cervantes and the Early Modern Mind, edited by Isabel Jaen Portillo and Julien Simon, New York: Routledge, 2021.
  • “Animal Training and its Cognitive Implications in the Early Modern Iberian World.” Special Issue on Animal Studies in Romance Notes 60.3 (2020).
  • “The Aesthetics of Disgust in Cervantes and Zayas.” In Beyond Sight: Smell, Taste, Touch and Hearing in Iberian Literatures and Cultures, 1200-1750. Eds. Ryan Giles and Steven Wagschal. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018 (94-120).
  • “Sancho’s Art of Memory and Forgetting: A Vanitas of the Mind.” In "Los cielos se agotaron de prodigios": Essays in Honor of Frederick De Armas. Eds. Kerry Wilks, Christopher Weimer, Benjamin Nelson and Julio Vélez Sainz. Newark (DE): Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs, 2018 (347-58).
  • “Smell in the Comedia, Smellin’ the Comedia.” In Making Sense of the Senses. Essays in Comedia Criticism. Eds. Bonnie Gasior and Yolanda Gamboa. Newark (DE): Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs, 2017 (67-80).
  •  “Cervantes’ El casamiento engañoso and the Failure of Theory of Mind: The Machiavellian Abilities of Campuzano and Estefanía.” In Self, Other, and Context in Early Modern Spain. Essays in Honor of Howard Mancing. Eds. Isabel Jaén, Carolyn A. Nadeau, and Julien Simon. Newark (DE): Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs, 2017 (57-73).
  • “Contemporary Cinematic Tragedy and the 'Silver Lining' Genre.” Co-authored with Sandra Shapshay. British Journal of Aesthetics 54.2 (2014) 161-74.
  • Don Quixote, the Skeptical Reader and the Nature of Reality.” In Cervantes in Perspective. Ed. by Julia Domínguez. Madrid: Iberoamericana-Vervuert, 2013 (139-54).
  • Translated and adpated as “El lector escéptico: el Quijote de Cervantes y las Meditaciones de Descartes.” In Comentarios a Cervantes: Actas selectas del VIII Congreso Internacional de la Asociación de Cervantistas. Ed. Emilio Martínez Mata and María Fernández Ferreiro. Siero (Asturias, Spain): Asociación de Cervantistas and Fundación María Cristina Masaveu Peterson, 2015.
  • “Reading Cervantes, or Shelton, or Phillips: The Source(s) of Cardenio and Double Falsehood.” Co-authored with Gary Taylor. In The Creation and Re-creation of Cardenio: Performing Shakespeare, Transforming Cervantes. Ed. by Terri A. Bourus and Gary Taylor. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013 (15-29).
  • “The Smellscape of Don Quixote: A Cognitive Approach.Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 32.1 (2012) 125-162.
  • “Ovid Transformed: Cristóbal de Castillejo as Conflicted Cosmopolitan,” Ovid in the Age of Cervantes, ed. Frederick A. de Armas. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010 (175-190).
  • “Medicine, Morality, Madness: Competing Models of Insanity in Calderón’s El mayor monstruo del mundo.Revista canadiense de estudios hispánicos 32:2 (2008) 227-45.
  • “Digging up the Past: The Archeology of Emotion in Cervantes’s ‘Romance de los celos.’” Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 27:2 (2007) 213-28.

Honors & Awards

  • Institute for Digital Arts & Humanities (IDAH) Faculty Fellowship (2021-22) for my project on “Counterfactuals in early modern literature”
  • Institute for Digital Arts & Humanities (IDAH) Summer Incubator (July 2021)
  • MIND Award (Motivación, Inspiración, Dedicación) for Impactful Teaching. Awarded by the senior-year Spanish majors of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society (2020)
  • ASPP Publication Grant for Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (2017)
  • Institute for Advanced Study, Collaborative Fellowship Award (Spring 2016)
  • Faculty Exchange Program at the University of Seville, Spain (November, 2015)
  • College of Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI) grant for the project “Sensorial Worlds: Iberian Empires and The Other Senses (1250-1650)" (2012-13)
  • Faculty Exchange Program at the University of Seville, Spain (Summer 2011)
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI) research fellowship (Teaching release, Fall 2011)
  • Institute for Advanced Study, Remak New Knowledge Center Seminar Participant (2010-11)
  • West European Studies National Resource Center, Faculty Research Grant (Summer 2009)
  • Trustees Teaching Award, Indiana University (2006-07)
  • Summer Faculty Fellowship, Indiana University (Summer 2005)
  • West European Studies National Resource Center, Faculty Research Grant (Summer 2004)
  • President's Arts and Humanities Initiative Research Grant, Indiana University (2003)
  • NEH Summer Seminar on Cervantes and Italian Renaissance Art, University of Chicago (Summer 2003)


  • SPAN 803: Graduate Independent Study: The novellas of María de Zayas
  • SPAN 708: Graduate Seminar: Cervantes' Brain: Intention, Interpretation and Don Quixote
  • SPAN 708: Graduate Seminar Madness in Early Modern Spain
  • SPAN 695/495: Plastic Verses: Ekphrasis and Art in Early Modern Spain
  • SPAN 628: Cervantes, Cognition and the Senses
  • SPAN 628: Reading and the Rise of Leisure in Early Modernity
  • SPAN 628: Cervantes and the Literature of Madness
  • SPAN 528: Spanish Literature of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
  • SPAN 512: Theory and Criticism
  • SPAN 450: Don Quixote
  • SPAN 417: Hispanic Poetry
  • SPAN 407: Cultural Icons of Spain
  • SPAN 328: Introduction to Hispanic Literature
  • COLL S103: Freshman Honors Seminar on Don Quixote  in Translation
  • COLL S103: Freshman Seminar Madness